Eryc Taylor Dance; Photo Nikola Bradonjic
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The Dance Enthusiast Celebrates Dancing Moms in the Midst of COVID-19

The Dance Enthusiast Celebrates Dancing Moms in the Midst of COVID-19

Published on May 17, 2020

The Dance Enthusiast asked dancing moms how they are handling this very unusual period of time with their families. The answers we received point to a resilient group of women who have found creative ways to engage with their families and community at large. 


Fran Kirmser and daughter; photo courtesy of Fran Kirmser
 

Fran Kirmser, Fran Kirmser Productions, one daughter, age 15


My favorite part /or my favorite moment of sheltering in place with my kid(s) is/has been nice long talks, walks and giggles, dance together to dance videos of genre we've never tried, and eating three really great meals every day!

The biggest challenge of this time period concerning my children is remote learning fatigue!

Social distancing with my kid(s)/family has taught me how precious our time is together.

I think of my mother/grandmother/great grandmother on this day and remember/ponder STRENGTH! CREATIVITY! SISTERHOOD!

A family ritual/project we've found comfort in is FOOD, FOOD, FOOD.

Something new I've learned from my family during this time is: as we had the great fortune of spending quarantine with grandparents, we cooked every night together and learned all kinds of traditional family recipes.


Callie Hatchett and son; photo by David Hatchett
 

Callie Hatchett, Teaching Artist for New York City Ballet, Mark DeGarmo Dance, BAAD Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance and Chrystie Street Ballet, Choreographer, Callie Hatchett Dance, one child, age 5

 

My favorite part of sheltering in place with my kid has been all the extra time together.

The biggest challenge of this time period concerning my child is that he has not had physical contact with another child in over two month.  He is very social and loves interacting with others.  My imagination is a poor substitute for a 5-year-old's. 

Social distancing with my kid(s)/family has taught me that they are the best!

I think of my grandmother on this day and ponder how she taught me to ride a bike in her front yard.

A family ritual/project we've found comfort in is playing board games and card games because we never made time for this before.

Something new I've learned from my family during this time is that I would fail miserably as a Kindergarten teacher.  Kindergarten teachers are super heroes!



Jody Oberfelder, choreographer, two kids, 26 and 30


My favorite part /or my favorite moment of sheltering in place with my kid(s) is/has been getting to know Jasper better. He and I haven't lived together since he was in high school. We're actually quite alike.

The biggest challenge of this time period concerning my children is not enough internet bandwidth

Social distancing with my kid(s)/family has taught me give everyone space to be who they are.

I think of my mother/grandmother/great grandmother on this day and remember/ponder: Nannie (my paternal grandmother) would sit on the floor with us and play. I remember at a young age how remarkable I thought that was. She enjoyed our presence.

A family ritual/project we've found comfort in is cooking, of course. and jigsaw puzzles.

For this unusual Mother’s Day, I'd like to share: My kids are cooking a restaurant style meal for me, because when they asked me what would you like for Mother's Day, I replied "I'd like to go to a restaurant." So they're doing a menu and the whole nine yards.


Davalois Fearon and family; photo courtesy of Davalois Fearon
 

Dava, Artistic Director Davalois Fearon Dance, one child, 17 months


My favorite part /or my favorite moment of sheltering in place with my kid(s) is/has been not having to leave her behind to work! I would leave her for 6-10 hours a few times a week. I love spending most of my time with her<3 Not having to pump breast milk.

The biggest challenge of this time period concerning my children is finding time to do administrative work and my personal physical art practice. I am up at 7 a.m. with her and have about an hour to work during her nap on average. She is usually asleep by 8:30 p.m. at which time I am too tired to work.

Social distancing with my kid(s)/family has taught me I should video chat with loved ones on a regular basis.

I think of my mother/grandmother/great grandmother on this day and remember/ponder: I wish I took the opportunity to interview and record my grandmother so I would have had her voice and stories to share with my daughter. I plan on doing so with my mother and Auntie and uncle so I have for myself, daughter and possible future grandchildren.

A family ritual/project we've found comfort in is listening to reggae on Saturday mornings, Bach and Gospel on Sundays because we love dance and music, and it reminders of the good times we shared before the pandemic doing our family weekend ritual.

Something new I've learned from my family during this time is we all need a little alone time:)


Melissa Toogood and child; photo courtesy of Melissa Toogood
 

Melissa Toogood, Pam Tanowitz Dance & freelance, one child, age 2


My favorite part /or my favorite moment of sheltering in place with my kid(s) is/has been seeing all the ways he is evolving. He has turned two while we have been isolating, and so much has happened. This was a period of time where I was going to be working much more than I had been since he was born, and now that I'm home, the silver lining is seeing all these big jumps in his development. He's gone from having very few words, to using new words every single day. We've witnessed his imagination grow, he's become amazing at puzzles, and he's even making jokes and playing tricks on us. It's really special to have been witness to all of it.

The biggest challenge of this time period concerning my children is getting him enough physical activity; we are in a Brooklyn apartment with no outdoor space. This is where we have had to be the most creative, but we have also discovered, thankfully, that repetition for a 2 year old is fun.

Social distancing with my kid(s)/family has taught me that every day is a new day. Even after a particularly hard day, my son always wakes me up the next morning with a huge smile on his face.

I think of my mother/grandmother/great grandmother on this day and remember/ponder that time itself means a lot. Simply being in the same space can generate love.

A family ritual/project we've found comfort in is online music class (Moozika) because it connects us to something and someone outside of our little isolated circle at home.

Something new I've learned from my family during this time is even though we love each other a lot, we all need some alone time. Even taking a shower without being interrupted was a challenge at first.

For this unusual Mother’s Day, I'd like to share: I'm grateful for my mum and all the mum's in my family, but living in NYC where most of us don't have family close by, I'm also incredibly grateful to my support network of dance/artist parents. We have a real community that helps, supports and encourages each other.


Catherine Gallant and family; photo courtesy of Catherine Gallant
 

Catherine Gallant, dancer/teacher NYCDOE/choreographer, three children, ages 33, 23 and 21


My favorite part /or my favorite moment of sheltering in place with my kid(s) is/has been cooking together with my youngest (college-age son).

The biggest challenge of this time period concerning my children is their understanding of their own vulnerability, staying safe.

Social distancing with my kid(s)/family has taught me a new awareness of the movement of people around us, how to use technology for social gatherings.

I think of my mother/grandmother/great grandmother on this day and remember/ponder: I think they would have done better at staying in and managing the details of cross contamination

A family ritual/project we've found comfort in is walking in Central Park at midnight. 

Something new I've learned from my family during this time is tolerance and forgiveness.

For this unusual Mother’s Day, I'd like to share: I feel for mothers who may have lost their child of any age due to the virus.


Lakey Evans-Peña;  photo courtesy of Lakey Evans-Peña

Lakey Evans-Peña, Dance Educator (Horton, The Ailey School), two children, ages 13 and 16


My favorite part /or my favorite moment of sheltering in place with my kid(s) is/has been true and rich family time where no one is preparing to run off to an activity.

The biggest challenge of this time period concerning my children is their mental health and well being.

Social distancing with my kid(s)/family has taught me to focus on what is truly important and worth my time.

I think of my mother/grandmother/great grandmother on this day and remember/ponder: people have endured through much more challenging events.

A family ritual/project we've found comfort in is playing board games together. It's a wonderful and fun way to hang together.

Something new I've learned from my family during this time is how much food can be consumed (and how many dishes subsequently need to be done) on a daily/weekly basis.

For this unusual Mother’s Day, I'd like to share: I am grateful and blessed everyday.


Kelly Hayes and son; photo courtesy of Kelly Hayes
 

Kelly Hayes, Dancer Carrie Ahern Dance, Faculty at The Ailey School and Soundance Children's Ballet, one son, almost 4


My favorite part /or my favorite moment of sheltering in place with my kid(s) is/has been painting together and listening to his developing stories.

The biggest challenge of this time period concerning my children is: he misses his school friends although we see them on zoom a couple times a week. My challenge is trying to make videos for dancers or trying to teach via Zoom. My son is too young to help and not always willing to share my presence.

Social distancing with my kid(s)/family has taught me my kid has pretty good spatial awareness. And kids are resilient. Watching him be happy in the present moment is very helpful.

I think of my mother/grandmother/great grandmother on this day and remember/ponder how hard it is to be home all day. Some days I feel that all I do is cook and clean. I am grateful that I can choose to work away from home (eventually again). I think it is good for all of us.

A family ritual/project we've found comfort in is a friend hosts a virtual costume party with a different theme every Saturday night. It is fun to dress up together and post pictures.

For this unusual Mother’s Day, I'd like to share: This is the first Mother's Day I am not working. Usually it is an Ailey School dance recital day. Still no Mother's Day brunch for me, maybe next year.


Kate St. Amand, Co-Artistic Director of SYREN Modern Dance, 2 children ages 9 and 6


My favorite part /or my favorite moment of sheltering in place with my kid(s) is/has been seeing more of their daily rhythm. In good moments and hard, I'd rather know my children more than less, and I've learned so much nuance about their daily rhythms.

The biggest challenge of this time period concerning my children is managing school and emotional stress.

Social distancing with my kid(s)/family has taught me that we NEED PEOPLE and interaction and connection, and screens will never be enough.

I think of my mother/grandmother/great grandmother on this day and remember/ponder how her hug would feel.

A family ritual/project we've found comfort in is breakfast because it's slower than it ever was and gives a moment to connect and for me to see, really see them.

Something new I've learned from my family during this time is I hate not being able to live fully and spontaneously. Just visit a friend, help a family member, grab underwear for my kids, just ANYTHING.

For this unusual Mother’s Day, I'd like to share: I will be hugging them, appreciating the extra time we've had.


Erin Bomboy and daughter; photo by Erin Bomboy


Erin Bomboy, Managing Editor of The Dance Enthusiast, one daughter, age 4


My favorite part /or my favorite moment of sheltering in place with my kid(s) is/has been the impromptu moments of laughter and love, including dance parties, tickle fights, and family bear hugs.

The biggest challenge of this time period concerning my children is trying to be all things: parent, teacher, playmate, soccer coach, arts-and-crafts instructor, camp counselor, and tea party coordinator.

I think of my mother/grandmother/great grandmother on this day and remember/ponder how they did more with less.

Social distancing with my kid(s/)/family has taught me that our family bond is super strong.

A family ritual/project we've found comfort in is enjoying my husband's amazing pancakes with blueberry compote for Saturday brunch because it's a custom we had before COVID-19 and one we'll have after.


Farrh Cortez and child; photo courtesy of Farrah Cortez
 

Farrah Cortez, artistic director of Alma Dance Academy of NJ, one child, age 5 


My favorite part /or my favorite moment of sheltering in place with my kid(s) is/has been being able to see him more often that I normally would when I’m running the studio, directing performances or even going to set myself.

The biggest challenge of this time period concerning my children is hoping that I’m doing this whole homeschooling thing right and that he doesn’t feel socially distant once he goes “back."

Social distancing with my kid(s)/family has taught me that we work well together. I have a great team!

I think of my mother/grandmother/great grandmother on this day and remember/ponder how my grandmother used to make us come together and eat, drink and share. I understand the importance of spending time together.

A family ritual/project we've found comfort in is cooking and baking, gardening and creating a space in our own home because we are sharing time we won’t get back.

Something new I've learned from my family during this time is we missed each other. We all live together, but we’ve been so busy in our own tracks and activities that we missed each other.

For this unusual Mother’s Day, I'd like to share: Home is where the heart is.


Christina Paolucci and family;  photo  courtesy of Christina Paolucci
 

Christina Paolucci, adjunct instructor of ballet at Montclair State University, one child, age 8


My favorite part /or my favorite moment of sheltering in place with my kid(s) is/has been listening to him interact with his teachers and friends on Zoom.

The biggest challenge of this time period concerning my children is his mental health and social skills development. He has been with me everyday, all day, for two months with the only other social interaction being through a screen.

Social distancing with my kid(s)/family has taught me that there is no longer no such thing as too much screen time, and it is now totally normal to have three classes being taught in three school systems at the same time from my house. (My husband is also a ballet instructor teaching through Zoom.)

A family ritual/project we've found comfort in is eating three meals a day together.

Something new I've learned from my family during this time is: I am not sure I have learned anything "new" from my family just yet. But I know I will realize the benefits of this time together when we are all out of it safely. When we can all go about our business and we are no longer spending time together, I will probably be lonely. Although I am currently ready to tear my hair out! But that wouldn't be such a bad thing since I need a haircut.

For this unusual Mother's Day, I'd like to share: My mom and I made a tradition of seeing The Ailey Company at NJPAC for Mother's Day. Very, very sorry to miss it this year for many reasons.


Martha at Amy Sharrocks' private view, summer 2013, photo Amy Sharrocks.jpg

Martha Oakes, dance publicist in London, two children, ages 24 and 21


My favorite part /or my favorite moment of sheltering in place with my kid(s) is/has been going for bike rides with my daughter, discovering byways and backwaters we didn't know existed - and climbing lots of hills!

The biggest challenge of this time period concerning my children is giving her the right and the space to be her 21-year-old self and not fall back into earlier ways.

Social distancing with my kid(s)/family has taught me how much I enjoy being in my neighbourhood and how not travelling changes the pace and rhythm of our lives.

I think of my mother/grandmother/great grandmother on this day and remember/ponder my mother's imagination and non-conformity, always giving me the freedom to be who i wanted to be.

A family ritual/project we've found comfort in is working and being in the garden. We all do different things in it but love being in this special place.

Something new I've learned from my family during this time is that 21-year-olds have different tastes from the older generation.

For this unusual Mother’s Day, I'd like to share: We are going to do a Zoom meeting with my husband's mother, with all of her family together. Family is so important. But I also think of how this confinement could be so difficult for other women, particularly with young children in cramped accommodation and no outside space.


Anabella Lenzu and family; photo courtesy Anabella Lenzu

Anabella Lenzu, director of Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama, two children


My favorite part /or my favorite moment of sheltering in place with my kid(s) is/has been: I enjoy spending more time with my kids and doing arts and crafts, dancing together and having more quality family time.

The biggest challenge of this time period concerning my children is: rehearsing, creating, and concentrating is hard. As artists, we need time alone to experiment and process. Living four together in an apartment in Brooklyn is challenging, but it is all about organization and scheduling. I miss being in the studio alone and having full concentration . . .

Social distancing with my kid(s/)/family has taught me to be kinder and listen more. As a mom, I need to make sure to keep the family in emotional balance, making sure that everyone in my family feels contain, and know that its ok to be sad, or bored or oversensitive.

I think of my mother/grandmother/great grandmother on this day and remember how all the women in different generations in my family were strong, courageous, leaders and hard workers, role models and gave themselves fully to the care of all the family members.

For this unusual Mother’s Day, I'd like to share: Love and blessings to all the mothers in the world, Thanks for their love, patience, compassion, and generosity.


The Dance Enthusiast’s DAY IN THE LIFE covers the stories behind dance/performance and creates conversation. For more behind-the-scenes stories from NYC and beyond, click here.


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